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If I Dropped Specialization Dice, Would Anyone Notice?

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I've been running some playtests, and have come to the conclusion that, while simulation-wise, specialization dice 'make sense', from an in game play perspective, they seem to be redundant with other things I have in D6 Dramatics.

 

They are also causing a minor bit of grumpiness at the table.

 

For those tuning in late, D6 Dramatics is a success driven system, and by giving a good narration of what you're doing, you can shift your success targets in your favor. There are also Goal Dice which are sort of like Fate Points and sort of not - it's not that hard to either Upshift your success range or work a Goal into a scene to get more dice.

 

In that context, a specialization die or two simply doesn't rate that highly - you can usually improve your average success count more handily with a good description and an Upshift, and if you need more successes than the maximum your skill can generate, getting a Goal to fire is a better bet.

 

Where it's causing table grumpies is this:

 

One of my players was significantly better at picking 'specialization dice' that come up regularly than the other three. One of the other three more or less treated 'specialization dice' as "Feats from D&D"...and is getting grumpy that he can't get HIS specialization dice to come up as regularly as the other character's sets.

 

The argument is that specialization dice allow you to make your character's abilities more 'unique', to preserve your niche in the party. I would prefer that people use their Goals to differentiate their characters. I've found that 'mechanical differentiation' is antithetical to a lot of the simplicity that D6 is built on, and that the people who want it are trying to play "D&D with D6". In any situation where that mechanical differentiation starts to matter, the people who don't get the advantage start mentally allocating their next few skill points to duplicate that specialization die.

 

From a simulation perspective, it only makes sense that someone would have 5D in Law and 2D in specialization dice for Patent Law. It makes less sense for someone to have 5D in pistols and 2D in Desert Eagle .50 Calibre. One of those choices is spending 2 pips to set up a background skill. The other is using 2 pips to become MUCH more dangerous in combat.

 

And there's the root of my problem. The value of a specialization die is entirely dependent on how easy it is to 'bring into the game'.

 

I'm not sure that it's worth it to have them from the player grumpiness perspective and from the extra-work-for-the GM perspective.

 

Opinions?

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Wait, D6 has specialization dice? Hmm, I never noticed. ;) Most D6 games I played, only the professional min/maxers took more than a single (or 2) specialization.

 

Warning, I think a spell of ramblin' is about to hit us. You have been warned!

 

...and is getting grumpy that he can't get HIS specialization dice to come up as regularly as the other character's sets.
That IS the root of the problem! It is not the game mechanics that are the problem. It is a player's lack of getting to use their character's skills/powers/etc. that is.

 

Are Desert Eagle .50 Calibres common enough in the setting that they would be useful in a Patent Law Courtroom? :P Are they common enough in a setting where the PC will get to use them enough to matter? If so, was this the setting that the GM implied the players would be partaking in?

 

If the GM said, "hey, lets play an A-Team like setting" and a player brings "Sherlock Homes" and then complains that he never gets to do stuff, who is at "fault"? If he brings "Murdock" and then complains there are not enough planes or other thinks that Murdock is good at, who is at "fault"? If the GM just says here is Game X, just make some characters and we will play, is it the players' fault that their character are not getting to do much that they spent their game mechanic exp equivalent on?

 

When a player presents a GM a character, he is giving the GM a contract. The contract says I want to play an adventure/campaign where this kind of character is important to the story. It is up to the GM to uphold their part in the contract if they accept the character. This means that all characters should get to do stuff, not just the "combat monsters" or the best min/maxer. Writing a campaign that makes Netskills all important but all the PCs are Street Samurai and Mages, most likely is an example of breaking the social contract between players & GM. Vice versa is an even better example, if they are are netters, why are they spending the whole adventure in meaningless gunfights?

 

If in an open skills based game, I expect challenges to match my character too. If I spend 5 dice in Law, I expect to need to lawyer or at least need to know about the law sometimes. We send Daniel Jackson into the Stargate because he has some useful knowledge skills, we do not send "Perry Mason" to go with him (except as an NPC that he has to deal with maybe). Maybe we now know the real reason Tasha Yar died, her player got tired of being a second string Worf. :P

 

If I spend points on disadvantages, I expect that they should be in play too. If I spend points on an NPC or pet or vehicle, I expect that it gets to be useful for most of the adventure. "Wait, I made a Smuggler for this Star Wars game and we spent the last four adventures stuck on Hoth, I want a refund on 25k credit disadvantage since I never get to use my ship!" "Man, I spent 25cp on a horse and all we have done is been stuck in caves, haunted houses and riding on boats!"

 

How much combat skills matter is more setting, players and GM than rules (true of any other skills too, of course) unless the game is basically a combat sim. I can not count the number of times I have heard people whine because they "had" to play the cleric or other utility class in old school D&D. I was always, "WHY did you have to?" Most responses are something like, "we would die without a healer" or other such lame excuses. Then let them die and maybe they can learn to play the cleric if it is that important.

 

Ramble, ramble, ramble. Did someone notice I have spent points on the "Rambles" disadvantage? At least my girlfriend likes it when I ramble.

 

It also sounds like you have something of dominate player syndrome or skilled min/maxer issues (or issues with underskilled min/maxers as the case might be), probably both. Neither of these are issues with the rules themselves either.

 

Oh, wait, there is a real topic, I would suggest making an optional rules section, toss specializations there and then let people who want to use them deal with them or not. :D

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Well, I might notice, but I wouldn't necessarily be bent out of shape about it. Specializations come into play pretty rarely in my games. But they're not unknown to occur, so I have had experience with them. Though I haven't had the negatives issues you mention. Guess I'm just strange, or lucky, that way.

 

But if you want to drop them for your setting/game, then go for it! If people don't like it, they'll either add them in or they simply won't buy it. Chances are, though, most won't even know they're gone.

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I've always thought of them as overly munchkin-y and unnecessary. I dumped them for the d6 Space thing I was working on and now that I'm preparing an SWRPG game I'm ditching them for that too.

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I've used them and even like them for certain things (like making a scientist that specializes in one very specific area), but I wouldn't weep if they were dropped. It's not a part of the core D6 experience for me. When I use them, I tend to designate certain broad skills as requiring specializations above a certain level, beyond which specialization is necessary to avoid Doc Savage / Buckaroo Banzai syndrome - so you might have Scholar: Chemistry (Biochemistry) 8D (11D).

 

Again, it could be dropped without too much grief, especially given the alternatives mentioned (description and upshift).

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I'm kind of leaning towards the opinion that they might be missed, actually. The Specialization Dice is a ready made way for a gamemaster to tailor a game to the player's desires. I'll echo Temprus a bit here... If a player creates a character with this specialty, a good gamemaster should be able to work that into the campaign. Otherwise it could be communicated before play what kind of campaign it is and if those skills wouldn't be useful, like mentioned above.

 

Dropping them would be, no doubt, easier. Keeping them is more of a challenge for the gamemaster, but could be more rewarding for a player who has that vision for the character.

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I think it works in some places, like specialized knowledge, but should possibly be disallowed for combat. I'm a pretty fair shot with a pistol. If I was statting myself in D6 I might give myself four or five dice in it. No firearm I own, though, or ever have owned, is going to put me up to 8D6 in that skill.

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I think it works in some places, like specialized knowledge, but should possibly be disallowed for combat. I'm a pretty fair shot with a pistol. If I was statting myself in D6 I might give myself four or five dice in it. No firearm I own, though, or ever have owned, is going to put me up to 8D6 in that skill.
I could agree with that. The combat skills when specialized do have a munchkin-ish feel to them.

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What if I limited Specialization dice to skills under Will, Awareness, Knowledge and Technique (effectively the four "Mental" attributes in my stat array?) Would that be better than chucking them out the airlock, or more hassle than it's worth?

 

I've also been tempted to allow players to spend 6 Skill Pips on a +2D Profession. If you can justify it as having been something you'd seen before in the course of being a doctor, lawyer, bounty hunter, Naval officer, or garbage man, you can use your Profession dice to add to ANY skill.

 

Given my druthers, I'd rather use Professions rather than Specialization Dice.

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What if I limited Specialization dice to skills under Will, Awareness, Knowledge and Technique (effectively the four "Mental" attributes in my stat array?) Would that be better than chucking them out the airlock, or more hassle than it's worth?

 

I've also been tempted to allow players to spend 6 Skill Pips on a +2D Profession. If you can justify it as having been something you'd seen before in the course of being a doctor, lawyer, bounty hunter, Naval officer, or garbage man, you can use your Profession dice to add to ANY skill.

 

Given my druthers, I'd rather use Professions rather than Specialization Dice.

 

Sounds like a good idea, Ken! I've tinkered with the idea of using professions or occupations before, but treating them almost like another attribute cost-wise. This makes them cheaper, but still limits them to a non-system-breaking level.

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What if I limited Specialization dice to skills under Will, Awareness, Knowledge and Technique (effectively the four "Mental" attributes in my stat array?) Would that be better than chucking them out the airlock, or more hassle than it's worth?

 

Yes.

 

I think it's cleaner to have certain skills like scholar and languages require that the player choose a specialization when the skill is taken, just for economy of space when writing the rules (not unlike the "cascade skills" in MegaTraveller). I think specializations encourage munchkinism and (as Lee said) don't really make a lot of sense in many cases. I've had a Mustang for years now... I really don't think I'm THAT much more capable driving it than I am in a rented car.

 

I suppose the answer also depends on how vague your skill definitions are. In MiniSix they gave the example of the "Athletics" skill which would have a specialization of "running". If you're combining Opend6 skills into bundles (and therefore dramatically shortening the skill list) then I'd have a different view about specializations.

 

I don't think I'm clear on what you're suggesting for "profession". Is this something the GM has to negotiate for the life of the character? Or is it specified at creation and just bumping a skill level? I think the former may be asking an awful lot of gaming groups and GMs in the era of video games and rules bloat.

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Here is my current proposed text

 

===

 

 

Profession Dice

A Profession is a two to three word description of what your character has spent extensive time and training doing. The GM can overrule overly broad professions, like "Secret Agent", or force them to be "Marine Aviator" or "Army Armor Officer". It is strongly recommended that any profession that has exposure to combat skills training be made as tight as possible, to allow players room to set up their niches.

Not all characters have to have Professions defined. If you have a Profession defined, you have 2D that can be added to any Skill roll, provided it's something you'd have prior experience with. A Profession costs 8 skill pips at the start of character creation; it gets more expensive after character creation. See page XX.

 

A character may have only one Profession, and it will always be 2D. A Profession can be changed after character creation just like skills can be re-allocated, but there must be a character story justification for it.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SKILL SPECIALIZATION? [sIDEBAR]

Experience with D6 games shows that skill specializations cause problems. For specializations like "Criminal" as a specialization of "Law", they were reasonably balanced. However, it rapidly became the norm to take specializations in specific guns, because they were cheaper than buying whole dice, and generally just as effective.

 

Rather than making a Marine sniper, by putting maximum skill dice in rifle and then taking two specialization dice in Barrett Model 82 .50 Calibre, Professions allow a character to take Marine Infantry for 2D, and then put 3D into rifle. This can give up to 5D for a Marine sniper, while also letting him do other things that a Marine would have had exposure to, like survival, tactics and leadership

 

===

 

I agree that the game should NOT have both options - it becomes more work to make a character if both options are present, and they can combine synergistically in ways that are unpleasant and take the dice pool out of 'reasonable bounds' very quickly.

Edited by AdAstraGames

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I just set specializations to add +1D, and players start with three "specializations" to distribute amongst their skills. They can buy new specializations in a skill for half the cost to increase that skill at whatever level it may be at. So it would be like Blasters 5D (DL-44) They roll 5D for regular blasters, and 6D for a DL-44. Everyone I run games with loves the rule :D

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I just set specializations to add +1D, and players start with three "specializations" to distribute amongst their skills. They can buy new specializations in a skill for half the cost to increase that skill at whatever level it may be at. So it would be like Blasters 5D (DL-44) They roll 5D for regular blasters, and 6D for a DL-44. Everyone I run games with loves the rule :D

 

So in your rule, when you advance the base skill, the specialization bonus remains 1D, meaning you get further benefit from it without having to "increase" the specialization? That is a departure from tradition, but that's cool if that's the way you want to do it.

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